At Heli-Expo today, Eurocopter unveiled the EC130 T2, an updated version of its venerable single-engine helicopter. It also announced orders for 105 of the new aircraft from seven launch customers: Maverick Helicopters, Papillon Helicopters, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Scandinavian Helicopter Group, Air Commander, Europavia and Enloe FlightCare. The EC130 T2 is powered by the Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine, which provides 10 percent more average power and lower specific fuel consumption than the original powerplant and has a higher time between overhaul interval.
A 1989 Eurocopter AS350B2 registered to Sundance Helicopters crashed December 7 during a twilight tour flight near Nevada’s Hoover Dam, killing all five aboard. The helicopter crashed the day after it was returned from maintenance for a 100-hour inspection and the replacement of its Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 engine, a main-rotor blade actuator and a tail-rotor actuator due to life-limit requirements.
Air Methods, a major global medical transportation company, recently announced that its United Rotorcraft division has been awarded a contract by OSF Aviation of Peoria, Ill., to complete OSF’s four new Eurocopter EC145s.
The medical interior design of the four EC145s will include several new features, including a next-generation, machined aluminum floor that will address previous problems of maintenance accessibility, re-configuration flexibility, fluid containment and ease of cleaning.
Eurocopter expects that its recently tested helicopter hybrid power concept will enter commercial service, soon perhaps as early as next year.
American Eurocopter built on its lead in the U.S. medevac market by announcing more than two dozen new helicopter sales this month at the Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) in St. Louis. The company announced the sale of 26 helicopters–10 singles and 16 twins–at the event. “This was a solid showing for our company,” said American Eurocopter president Marc Paganni.
Helicopter and business aircraft leasing firm Milestone Aviation announced at the Air Medical Transport Conference yesterday that it would purchase five new Eurocopter EC130B4 helicopters. The order is valued at $17 million, with deliveries slated for the second half of next year.
The FAA awarded an STC to Cobham for installation of its HeliSAS autopilot and stability augmentation system on Eurocopter’s AS350 and EC130. HeliSAS is designed for use in all phases of flight and automatically returns the helicopter to a near-level attitude when the pilot releases the controls. The system costs and weighs much less than traditional large military and commercial helicopter autopilot systems, according to Cobham.
Last month in Marignane, France, Eurocopter quietly flew the first prototype of a helicopter that is to replace the EC130 light single and possibly the entire Ecureuil family, Jean-Michel Billig, the companyπs executive vice president for research and development, told AIN yesterday. The program is codenamed X2, although it has no relationship with Sikorskyπs technology demonstrator of the same name. Certification is planned for 2013.
The National Park Service (NPS) is proposing new rules to cap the number of air-tour flights over the Grand Canyon, further restrict flight corridors and altitudes adjacent to it, and mandate the use of “quiet-technology” helicopters flying tours there.
Air Medical Resource Group ordered seven Eurocopter AS350B3e rotorcraft at Heli-Expo, becoming the launch customer for the new model AStar introduced at this year’s convention. A more powerful version of the AS350B3, it’s powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine and new generation Fadec. Certification is planned for this summer and deliveries are scheduled to begin by year’s end.